Round three provided some blockbuster matches as the Dockers remain the only side with a perfect record after defeating Collingwood, to move to 3-0 as the sit atop conference B. In conference A, the first ever ‘Q Clash’ in the AFLW finished in a thrilling draw as the Lions remain first in the conference with two wins and one draw from their first three matches. Round four is upon us and here’s our full preview and tips.
Friday 28th February, Marvel Stadium 5:35pm AEDT
The marquee matchup of the round as the Pies and Dees play in a curtain raiser before the AFL State of Origin match on Friday night. The game is a pivotal in conference B as both sides currently have 2-1 records, with Collingwood in 2nd and the Demons sitting in 4th, with the log jam between 2nd and 4th in the conference a win for either side will be crucial in the makeup of the standings. The Dees suffered a shock loss to the Saints last week as the Dees lead for the majority of the game, but a wasteful performance from their forward line (1.8) proved costly. Karen Paxman is the most in-form player in the league at the moment and she was the stand out for Melbourne as she collected 26 disposals. Like Melbourne, Collingwood were also wasteful in their round three loss to the Dockers. The Pies could only manage one goal in the second half, despite a 34-21 advantage in the inside 50 count. Although the Magpies were inefficient inside forward fity, they will take plenty of positives as they dominated the midfield battle, led by Jaimee Lambert’ 32 possessions and four clearances. This could be one of the games of the year. Two quality sides, under the bright lights, both coming off narrow losses and both desperate to jump ahead in a tight conference B. Although they are the outsiders, the Pies midfield has been red hot this season and the Demons ever growing injury list looks as though it is going to catch up with them. Collingwood to win in a thriller.
Saturday 29th February, Queen Elizabeth Oval, 3:10pm AEDT
The AFLW heads to country Victoria as Bendigo hosts the clash between the Tigers and the Cats. Both sides are winless and sit at the bottom of conference A. The Tigers were embarrassed last week as they suffered a 56 point loss at the hands of the Kangaroos. The Tigers had high expectations coming into their first season as they put together a list filled with star studded names, but have yet to deliver as Katie Brennan, Monique Conti and Sabrina Fredrick have struggled to make an impact in yellow and black. Last week the Cats pushed reigning premiers Adelaide right to the finish line but fell short in an eleven point loss. Danielle Higgins (19 disposals) and Olivia Purcell (18 disposals) led a second half charge from the Cats that nearly caused an upset victory. The Cats have been in every game this season, with their biggest loss only being 19 points. The Cats haven’t been far off and are building a competitive brand of footy, from a side that was expected to struggle. The QEO surface should suit the Cats midfield that has shown a lot more this season than the Tigers. The Tigers have only managed two goals per game this season as their forward line has struggled to gel, the Cats have kicked more than double the amount of goals the Tigers have kicked this season. The Cats won’t have any trouble getting past a struggling Tigers outfit and will finally get their first win.
Saturday 29th February, Arden Street, 5:10pm AEDT
Football returns to Arden Street as North Melbourne host the Gold Coast Suns. After a upset loss in round one, the Kangaroos have bounced back with wins over GWS and Richmond, the latter a 56 point victory. The star studded Roos side led by Emma Kearny, Ash Riddell and Jasmine Garner have comprehensively put any doubts to bed over North Melbourne’s premiership chances. The Kangaroos’ forwards have been lethal in the last two weeks with scores of 6.1 and 12.4 as they sit with the leagues highest percentage of 218. Kalinda Howarth kicked three of the Suns’ four goals as the Gold Coast fought back from a fifteen point deficit at half time, as they drew with the undefeated Lions. The Suns have already exceeded expectations as they sit just a game outside of the top three in conference A and remain a genuine finals threat. The Kangaroos have star quality all across the crowd and are starting to find their form as they play their first game of the season at Arden Street. The Suns will be competitive in the midfield, however the Kangaroos simply have too much firepower up forward for the Suns to handle. After a 56 point win last week, the line should be no issue for North.
Saturday 29th February, Leederville Oval, 7:10pm AEDT
The Eagles host the Bulldogs at Leederville Oval in a conference B clash, as the Eagles look for their first win of the season. Despite a game high 23 disposals from star Dana Hooker, the Eagles were beaten comprehensively by the Giants last week as the Eagles failed to kick more than two goals for the third consecutive week. The Eagles have talent in the midfield led by Hooker and Emma Swanson but simply don’t have a forward line capable of kicking a winning score at the moment. After a 21 point loss to Carlton, the Bulldogs sit at 1-2 and are now fighting for their finals hopes in a tight conference B. Sitting fifth in conference B with Melbourne, Carlton and Collingwood sitting above them with favourable fixtures, the Bulldogs can’t afford to lose on Saturday. Despite a disappointing start for her side, Bulldogs skipper Ellie Blackburn has been a shining light for the Dogs, Blackburn picked up 20 disposals and laid four tackles in the Bulldogs loss to the Blues. The inexperience of the expansion sides has shown in the big gap between the new and established sides this season and the Eagles will be in for plenty more pain this season. The Bulldogs with everything to play for, will be far too strong for an Eagles outfit that has struggled to kick goals this season.
Sunday March 1, Hisense Stadium, 1:10pm AEDT
A massive cross-conference clash between two sides that sit 2-1, with the Crows sitting 4th in conference A and the Blues sitting 3rd in conference B. After losing to the Lions in round one, the reigning premiers scrapped over the line against the lowly Saints and Cats, raising many questions over the Crows premiership aspirations. After losing to arch rivals Collingwood, Carlton bounced back with a quality all round performance in a 21 point win against the Bulldogs. After a poor performance in round 2, Tayla Harris bounced back with 13 disposals, four marks and a goal in an impressive performance. The Crows survived a second half fade out against the Cats last week to register their second win in a row. The Crows looked like they were going to be overan late in the fourth quarter before benefitting from a controversial deliberate rushed behind call that sealed the match. Danielle Ponter’s four goals proved to be the difference, whilst Ebony Marinoff put on a midfield masterclass with 25 disposals. The Crows haven’t been at their best this season, but have found a way to win games, which is a big trademark of premiership calibre sides. The Blues have gotten incredible performances out of their midfield, led by Madison Prespakis who racked up 24 disposals last week. Carlton’s main weakness this season has been their inefficiency going forward, that must take their opportunities going forward if they are any chance to beat the Crows. The Crows were 4-1 at home last season and have rarely been beaten in South Australia across the history of the AFLW. The Crows are starting to build some momentum and keep finding a way to win matches, expect that premiership quality to shine through again as the Crows will extend their winning streak to three games.
Sunday 1st March, RSEA Park, 3:10pm AEDT
Fremantle travels to Moorabbin sitting at the top of conference B, and the only team in the competition with a perfect 3-0 record after a gutsy victory last week against Collingwood. The Dockers were led by unbreakable defence, keeping the Pies at bay and remarkably to just one goal in the second half, despite Collingwood's 34-21 advantage in inside fifties. St Kilda broke through for their first ever win in the AFLW after upsetting the Demons in round three. Cult hero Caitlin Greiser kicked two out of the Saints three goals in a breakout performance. The Dockers have built a brand based on consistent pressure backed by a strong defence that doesn’t give their opponents an inch, Kiara Bowers personified this brand as she laid 14 tackles. The Dockers backline featuring Angelique Stannett, Laura Pugh, Janelle Cuthbertson, Philipa Seth and Evangeline Gooch have been rock solid and covered for a midfield that hasn’t set the world on fire. The Saints are only average 20 points a game and the lack of attacking firepower simply won’t be able to score against the dominant Dockers defence. Fremantle has been the stand out side in the competition and will continue their perfect start to the season against a Saints side that simply won’t have enough attacking power to kick a winning score.
Sunday 1st March, Hickey Park, 5:10pm AEDT
Round four concludes with a top three clash in conference A, as the Lions host the Giants at Hickey Park. The Lions have well and truly exceeded expectations in a season which was expected to be based around a rebuild, the Lions sit undefeated at the top of conference A. The Giants have had an inconsistent start to the season, but have found their way into third place in conference A. The Lions drew the inaugural AFLW ‘Q Clash’ after they failed to kick a goal in the second half, in a game that the Lions were in control of as they led by fifteen points at half time. Emily Bates’ 24 disposals led the way in the midfield for the Lions, whilst Kate Lutkins put in a career best performance with 22 disposals and 12 marks. Alyce Parker put on a clinic with 22 disposals in the Giants convincing 28 point win over the Eagles last week, the Giants midfield has been one of the best in the competition so far this season. Alyce Parker will be facing plenty of attention from the Lions after her red hot start to the season. The big question surrounding this game will be if the Giants defence can stand up against a quality attacking side like the Lions. The Giants will generate plenty of scoring opportunities, but the Giants defence struggled in its only genuine test so far this season against North Melbourne. This game is going to be an entertaining affair, but with so many attacking weapons, the Lions will be too strong for the Giants and remain unbeaten in 2020.
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